Cooperation in transboundary basins and adaptation to climate change Print
News Waterfall - News Waterfall #4
Friday, 07 September 2012 15:22

Impacts of climate change and variability on transboundary basins are evident in many regions in the world and increasing floods and droughts pose a challenge to water managers around the globe. On the one hand they face uncertainty regarding the impacts of climate change on water resources and, on the other hand, uncertainty regarding the possible adaptation measures implemented by other riparian countries. This brings to the risk that unilateral adaptation measures, such as the construction of dams or flood protection infrastructure, could have negative effects on neighbouring countries. Transboundary cooperation is therefore necessary to prevent negative impacts of unilateral activities and to support the coordination of adaptation measures at the river-basin level. Furthermore, combining efforts helps to find better, more cost-effective solutions.

The Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes provides a sound framework for transboundary cooperation also in the context of adaptation to climate change. The Convention is supporting countries in developing transboundary adaptation strategies through guidance, capacity-building, projects on the site and exchange of experience.

Guidance documents

The Guidance on Water and Adaptation to Climate Change, adopted by the Meeting of the Parties and published in 2009, provides step-by-step advice to decision-makers and water managers on how to assess impacts of climate change on water quantity and quality, how to perform risk assessment (including health risk assessment), how to gauge vulnerability, and how to design and implement appropriate adaptation strategies.

In addition, the Guidance on Water Supply and Sanitation in Extreme Weather Events, prepared under the Protocol on Water and Health to the Water Convention, describes the effects of climate-related weather events on the capacity and operations of water and sanitation infrastructures and services, and illustrates effective ways to minimize impacts and health risks.

The Water Convention promotes dialogue and cooperation, and supports countries in jointly adapting water management to climate change through its programme of pilot projects on adaptation to climate change in transboundary basins.

Pilot Projects on adaptation to climate change in transboundary basin

The projects aim to strengthen the capacity to adapt to climate change and to create positive examples demonstrating the benefits of, and possible mechanisms for, transboundary cooperation in adaptation planning and implementation. They include joint impact and vulnerability assessment and the development of a basin-wide adaptation strategy. Representatives of the pilot projects meet annually to exchange experience between the pilot projects.

The climate change activities under the Water Convention are made possible by Finland, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland. Four pilot projects on the Chu and Talas, Dniester, Neman and Sava river basins are directly supported by the Water Convention. They are developed in the framework of the Environment and Security Initiative (ENVSEC) and in cooperation with other organizations such as UNDP, OSCE, UNEP, IWAC and WMO.

For more information on specific pilot projects, please follow the links below:



Dauria going dry;






The latest progress report is available here, the web platform is available here.

Platform for sharing experience on adaptation to climate change in transboundary basins

The platform for sharing experience includes regular workshops and a web-based platform. The range of annual workshops on water and adaptation to Climate Change brings together water and climate experts from around the world to share experience and lessons learnt. During these workshops, different examples and approaches for adaptation to climate change are being discussed such as dealing with uncertainty, using and preserving ecosystems for adaptation, structural measures, reducing water use, integrated flood management, economic analysis for evaluating adaptation options etc.

2012: Third workshop on water and adaptation to climate change: Making adaptation work
2011: Second workshop on water and adaptation to climate change: challenges, progress and lesson learnt
2010: First workshop in adaptation to climate change in transboundary basins
2009: Workshop on transboundary flood risk management
2008: International Workshop on Adaptation to Climate Change in Water Sector

The fourth workshop on water and adaptation to climate change will be held in 2013


UNECE also cooperates with many other actors in climate change adaptation such as the European Commission.

A leaflet about the Climate Change activities under the Water Convention can be found here: English.